“…the presumption (of innocence) is not (or at least should not be) an instruction about whether jurors believe defendant did or did not commit the crime. It is, rather, an instruction about their probative attitudes.”
Originally posted on Error Statistics Philosophy:
by Professor Larry Laudan
Philosopher of Science*
Several of the comments to the July 17 post about the presumption of innocence suppose that jurors are asked to believe, at the outset of a trial, that the defendant did not commit the crime and that they can legitimately convict him if and only if they are eventually persuaded that it is highly likely (pursuant to the prevailing standard of proof) that he did in fact commit it. Failing that, they must find him not guilty. Many contributors here are conjecturing how confident jurors should be at the outset about defendant’s material innocence.
That is a natural enough Bayesian way of formulating the issue but I think it drastically misstates what the presumption of innocence amounts to. In my view, the…
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